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raising a new generation of nurses Her mother claims Rhonda Heim has always been a nurse. “She says I was always putting wet cloths on people’s foreheads,” says Rhonda Heim, RNC, Nursing Clinical Instructor for Mercy College. In retrospect, Heim thinks the behavior might have resulted from when she and her siblings came down with hard measles—and their mother turned the living room into a miniature hospital ward.

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hether it was the measles, or watching Dr. Ben Casey on TV in the 1960s, there was no hesitation when Heim chose her career. She entered (then) Mercy Hospital School of Nursing to become a diploma nurse. “When I got out of school, I intended to save lives,” Heim says. After graduation, she became a circulating RN at Mercy Medical Center. By 1985 Heim was working in mother-baby nursing, which takes the OB experience up a notch to affecting how families form, she says. Heim also started working on her BSN, finally completing it in 1994. Today Heim combines hands-on nursing care with education as she teaches students how to care for patients. “When we’re in the lab, we have mannequins--which don’t respond like people. Go figure,” Heim says. “When you have students at a bedside with you, you get a chance to help them interact with patients.” Clinical rotations are really a team-teaching situation, Heim says. She matches nursing students with primary nurses who are assigned to their patient. After students have reviewed their patient’s chart, they pay visits with Heim at their side. Sometimes the visits are for

assessing mother and baby. “With assessments, anything we do in the room is a teaching moment” Heim says, “from rewrapping the baby to helping mom to the bathroom.” After teacher and student complete their assessment, the student reports his or her findings to the primary nurse. “You have to be willing to step back and let students do things at their own pace,” Heim says. “Every individual is different. I’ve had students be almost giddy after the first time they’ve given a shot the patient didn’t feel. I truly feel like I’m helping the profession because I’m helping young people develop the love of nursing that I have.” Heim’s contributions to Mercy College were formally recognized when she received the 2007-2008 Adjunct Faculty Award. “I was amazed and honored and humbled,” she recalls, attributing her success to Leona Sweeney, one of Heim’s instructors. Sweeney’s old-fashioned nurse’s hat, stiffened with thick starch, is displayed in a case in the Brennan Hall Lobby. Heim still wears a prestarched nurse’s hat every day. “It’s part of me as a nurse,” she says. “When I walk into a room people pay attention.” Everything she does funnels into her persona as a nurse, Heim says. “My role as a deacon’s wife, my role in the church: they’re both service roles and so is nursing. All my students become my kids. And watching the education process lived out on the floor, seeing students “get it,” that’s almost indescribable. Like a mom watching her baby take the first step.”

www.mchs.edu/vitalpeople | www.mchs.edu/vitalpeople |

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Vital People 2011  

Mercy College of Health Sciences Magazine

Vital People 2011  

Mercy College of Health Sciences Magazine

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